1 Reason People Act the Way They Do

effective, persuasive talking is preceded by passionate, detailed, and focused listening

Anybody ought to know better than that!” But they don’t. The reason people do what they do is because they believe for today and for them this is the best and wisest thing for them to do. How do I know? The Bible tells me so.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the hearts (Proverbs 21:2, NKJV).

When I don’t believe that, I approach people with the attitude — they knew better and they did it anyway. I judge them to be malignant, dishonest and acting with evil intent. And, even though I don’t say it, the distrust and one-upness come out the pores of my skin.

But surely people know when they’re doing something clearly wrong — they know better than to do it.

Jesus didn’t think so. I don’t know anything worse than killing the Son of God. Did they know better? Jesus said they didn’t:

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do (Luke 23:34).

Peter agreed with Jesus about the same people committing the same act:

Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers (Acts 3:17).

Paul said the same as Jesus and Peter:

which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8).

If Jesus, Peter, Paul, and the Holy Spirit are right, people do wrong things because they believe wrong things. If I’m going to help them, I need to know what they believe and why.

We are both, he and I, doing what we’re doing for exactly the same reason: we believe we’re doing the right thing for us today.

[tweetthis]The reason people do what they do: they believe 4 today & 4 them this is the best & wisest thing 4 them 2 do.[/tweetthis]

If you don’t read Seth Godin’s blog, you’re missing one to three classics every month — sometimes that many in a week. He blogs every day, 365 times a year, 366 in leap years. They’re short, some unusual, but many are right on target and thought-provoking. You can subscribe by clicking on the link and typing your email address on the upper left-hand side of his blog: Seth Godin Blog

Here are two of his comments on the principle in Proverbs 21:2:

No one is unreasonable

by Seth Godin

No one says, “I’m going to be unfair to this person today, brutal in fact, even though they don’t deserve it or it’s not helpful.”

Few people say, “I know that this person signed the contract and did what they promised, but I’m going to rip them off, just because I can.”

And it’s quite rare to have someone say, “I’m a selfish narcissist, and everyone should revolve around me merely because I said so.”

In fact, all of us have a narrative. It’s the story we tell ourselves about how we got here, what we’re building, what our urgencies are.

And within that narrative, we act in a way that seems reasonable.

To be clear, the narrative isn’t true. It’s merely our version, our self-talk about what’s going on. It’s the excuses, perceptions and history we’ve woven together to get through the world. It’s our grievances and our perception of privilege, our grudges and our loves.

No one is unreasonable. Or to be more accurate, no one thinks that they are being unreasonable.

That’s why we almost never respond well when someone points out how unreasonable we’re being. We don’t see it, because our narrative of the world around us won’t allow us to. Our worldview makes it really difficult to be empathetic, because seeing the world through the eyes of someone else takes so much effort.

It’s certainly possible to change someone’s narrative, but it takes time and patience and leverage. Teaching a new narrative is hard work, essential work, but something that is difficult to do at scale.

In the short run, our ability to treat different people differently means that we can seek out people who have a narrative that causes them to engage with us in reasonable ways. When we open the door for these folks, we’re far more likely to create the impact that we seek. No one thinks they’re unreasonable, but you certainly don’t have to work with the people who are.

And, if you’re someone who finds that your narrative isn’t helping you make the impact you seek, best to look hard at your narrative, the way you justify your unreasonableness, not the world outside.

The other person is always right

by Seth Godin

Always right about feelings.

About the day he just experienced.

About the fears (appropriate and ill-founded) in his life.

About the narrative going on, unspoken, in his head.

About what he likes and what he dislikes.

You’ll need to travel to this place of ‘right’ before you have any chance at all of actual communication.

Why do people think wrong things are right? That’s where listening comes in. If I don’t get there, I fail to find the lost sheep where they are. I want them to be where I am, and we don’t meet.

[tweetthis]What if I start by trying to understand the person who acted unreasonable before I tell him or her what to do?[/tweetthis]

I might learn something about him or me, why we do what we do, and how we need to do some things differently.

What have you found effective in dealing with unreasonable people?

Please leave a comment by ...... clicking here.

9 Ways to Encourage Your Preacher

3 reasons to encourage anyone

I received this email from a preacher friend: Could you answer the following questions for me in order to assist me with a sermon this week. We’re doing a “Church Growth” series – and the next lesson is on Ministerial Renewal. Perhaps my answers to him would provide a “mustard seed” of how to encourage your preacher (and others).

What are some ways members can encourage and support their ministers?

  1. Sincere, spaced, specific compliments.
  2. Sincere, metered, kind criticism.
  3. Consistent, accurate communication about what you want, when you want it, and what you don’t want. Some people want visits when they’re sick, others don’t. Some people want their names in the bulletin for sickness, deaths, and weddings, others don’t.
  4. Extend grace. When your preacher forgets or makes a mistake, communicate when it’s helpful and important. However, an occasional slip doesn’t merit an emotional explosion.
  5. Especially when you have a criticism, talk to your preacher — not about your preacher. Don’t tattle to the elders about shortcomings of your preacher until you’ve talked with him first (Matthew 18:15). Then, if you need to involve the elders, let him know and suggest he invite a trusted person to set in on the meeting. Make the purpose of the meeting help and not hurt (Matthew 18:16). [tweetthis]Don’t tattle 2 the elders about shortcomings of your preacher until you’ve talked with him 1st (Matthew 18:15).[/tweetthis]
  6. Invite him and his family for a meal. When people do that, without an agenda, it feels like a mini-vacation — a time to rest, relax, and recharge. Especially refreshing to me: people who have treated me like a normal human being, Jerrie, not just “the preacher.”
  7. Give him awards and parties. I’ve asked many people why their companies waste money on pins, plaques, cruises, and certificates. They tell me the company isn’t wasting money — it’s an investment in their encouragement and growth. I ask, “I wonder if that works with preachers?”. It does. Many have done that for me and I’m encouraged.
  8. Give an extended (three-month) sabbatical every seven years. One of the easiest, most economical ways to get a good new preacher is to give your old preacher a planned extended rest. He can come back a renewed preacher without paying a moving company and negotiating a higher salary with a different preacher who doesn’t know the congregation. This was the most valuable gift in my years of preaching. Trade Your Preacher for a Better One
  9. Encourage and assist in short periods of intense, isolated study. I’ve done this on several occasions. It’s amazing what I can do in five days in a remote place with nothing to do but think, pray, read, and study. Some of my most used and helpful sermons and series have come out of these focused times of retreat and study.

Why is it important for members to encourage and support their ministers (all servants — not just preachers)?

  1. Courage wears out. Unless many people are encouraged, they will become discouraged and “weary in well doing” (Galatians 6:9)
  2. Encouragement helps the encourager as well as the encouraged.
  3. It’s a part of “bearing one another’s burdens” and fulfilling the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). [tweetthis]Encouragement helps the encourager as well as the encouragee.[/tweetthis]

What Bible examples do you see where ministers were encouraged and supported?

  • God told Moses to encourage Joshua. Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:28
  • Moses encouraged Joshua in the sight of all Israel. Deuteronomy 31:7
  • Moses encouraged Joshua. Deuteronomy 31:23
  • The Lord encouraged Joshua. Joshua 1:7
  • Joshua encouraged others. Joshua 10:25

The encouragee has become the encourager.

What encourages you? How have you encouraged others?
Please comment below:

Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2016)

A few years ago I received a request to lead a workshop on how to set and achieve goals in a church.

I asked the person requesting the appointment if the elders and preachers set goals as individuals. He replied in the negative.

I told him I wouldn’t ask the congregation to do something their leaders weren’t doing. I asked if they’d like to learn how to set and work toward goals as individuals. If that was helpful to them, they’d be ready to encourage others to join them in a practical discipline.

I’ve been setting written goals since 1971. I haven’t reached every goal, but I think I’ve accomplished more than if I’d never aimed at anything. Suggestions from previous post: Planning to Grow as a Leader.

The best book I’ve read on goal-setting was published this year. It gives suggestions to plan and work toward accomplishing the life you believe God wants you to live.

Here are some “mustard seeds” I found encouraging:

As we said earlier, most people spend more time planning a one-week vacation than identifying what outcomes they want to see in the major areas of their lives. Is it any surprise when life doesn’t turn out the way we want? (Kindle Locations 565-567).

Pull power is essential to reach our goals. You need to see a future with such clarity and desirability that you will go through all the uncomfortable things life throws at you to attain it (Kindle Locations 670-671).

The problem is that most of us are so caught up in our moment-to-moment activities, we don’t stop to ask ourselves, Where is this all going? How is it going to end if I stick to this same path? (Kindle Locations 719-720).

Our legacy comprises the spiritual, intellectual, relational, vocational, and social capital we pass on. It’s the sum total of the beliefs you embrace, the values you live by, the love you express, and the service you render to others. It’s the you-shaped stamp you leave when you go (Kindle Locations 746-748).

I encourage you to plan your life, and live toward the “worthy ideal”: buy the book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, and follow the plan to use every resource God has given you to be the servant God wants you to be.

What have you found helpful in setting and reaching goals?
Please comment below:

Should Decisions Be by Minority or Majority?

when everyone doesn’t agree, how do you make a decision?

We value unity. We believe in consensus. We have unanimity on every decision. We never make a decision unless everyone is in agreement.”

The way it’s been presented to me: it’s more spiritual to have consensus, every person agreeing on every decision, than to go with the majority when one or two hold a contrary view.

[tweetthis]It’s my observation each eldership has a majority or minority rule.[/tweetthis]

Either the group works with the judgment of the most — they make their choice on the wisdom of the majority — or they surrender to the opinion of the least. They have minority rule.

I’ve seen it in elderships of three, five, and seven. An issue has been discussed and debated. They’ve prayed and asked God for wisdom. Each man had an opportunity to express his views. They gave their reasons for and against the topic. Perhaps it’s been on the agenda for several meetings.

It’s time to make a decision. All but one says it’d be best for the church to move on this issue. One elder is set against the proposal and shows no sign of changing his mind. What happens next?

Let’s suppose we’re observing the eldership of seven. Here are some questions:

  1. Does one with the contrary view have more wisdom than the combined wisdom of the other six? Who arrived at that conclusion? Whose wisdom determined one person has better judgment than six other elders?
  2. Is it the same person each time? How long has he been setting or stalling the course of this church?
  3. What action is this one person starting or stopping by overruling the other six?
    1. Failing to send a missionary?
    2. Not starting a plan of outreach that might touch many people?
    3. Failing to provide more resources to carry out the mission of this congregation?
    4. Prohibiting making contact or continuing discipline for a wayward sheep?
  4. Who came up with the principle it’s more spiritual to let one or two elders set the direction of the church than to go with the majority of the eldership?

“But, we must have unity. We must speak as one to the congregation.”

I think there’s strength in a united voice in leading a group.

[tweetthis]Is it necessary for the majority to surrender to the minority to produce unity?[/tweetthis]

I read of a church with a rule to deal with this tension. When a matter came before the elders, they thoroughly discussed it. They presented reasons for and against the proposal. If they needed more research, they did it.

When they had all the information they needed to decide, they voted. If there were one or more in the minority, they immediately took another vote. According to their operating procedure, those in the minority could either vote with the majority, giving a consensus, or they could resign their position. Then when they stood before the congregation, they could honestly say, “Here is our decision and it was unanimous.” They had learned and applied the principle: not everyone gets his way, but everyone gets his say.

What have you seen with majority-minority rules in elders’ decisions?
Please comment below:

3 Tips for Time Management

is there any way in my busy life to do everything I need to do?

I’ve never been busier — church, family, work, children, grandchildren, and other things coming up. I just don’t have enough time.”

How does a busy person exhibit excellence when there’re so many choices and chores? Is it possible?

Here is the thesis of my post:

If a job, ministry, task, or project is something I need to do, there’s enough time.

We may discuss in another blog post about doing things others need to be doing. That is challenging. But in this post, we’re looking at having time to do something I believe God has given me the ability, opportunity and responsibility to do. Now where do I find time?

1. If God has called me to a task, He’ll provide the time.

How do I know? The Bible tells me so.

Read Paul’s promise:

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19, NKJV).

After a study of time in God’s word and preaching seven sermons in the series, I came to the conclusion: according to Philippians 4:19 and the rest of the Bible: God will give me all the time I need, all the people I need, all the wisdom I need, and all the money I need to do all He wants and expects me to do.

Consider Alexander Strauch’s observation:

Some people say, “You can’t expect laymen to raise their families, work all day, and shepherd a local church.” But that is simply not true. Many people raise families, work, and give substantial hours of time to community service, clubs, athletic activities, and/or religious institutions. The cults have built up large lay movements that survive primarily because of the volunteer time of their members. We Bible-believing Christians are becoming a lazy, soft, pay-for-it-to-be-done group of Christians. It is positively amazing how much people can accomplish when they are motivated to work for something they love. I’ve seen people build and remodel houses in their spare time. I’ve also seen men discipline themselves to gain a phenomenal knowledge of the Scriptures (Biblical Eldership, by Alexander Strauch, Lewis and Roth Publishers, © 1995 by Alexander Strauch, page 28).

You and I have the same amount of time each day, month, and year as Jesus had when He was on earth, the President of the United States, or Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc. One or two of those examples have more things on their to-do list than I have on mine.

[tweetthis]God will give me all the time, people, wisdom, and money I need to do all He wants and expects me to do.[/tweetthis]

2. Learn a plan to do what you need to do with the time God’s given you.

The best plan I’ve read is in David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.

He lists five steps:

  • Collect. Get everything out of my head, my inbox, notes (on my desk, car, and coat): scraps of paper, notebooks, electronic lists. There’ll be stress as long as I’m putting pressure on myself to be sure not to forget something important. I’ll be reviewing, listing in my mind, and wondering if I have forgotten what I need to remember to do.
  • Process. After everything is emptied, I need to have a collecting place where everything is assembled I need to do.to-do-lists
  • Organize. Now it’s time to put everything in the lists on the calendar and into a time management app to appear at the time it needs to be done. Years ago, I wrote everything in a DayTimer book. Now I use OmniFocus, an app on my iPhone. It’s a way to get everything out of my mind, stored in something that’ll be there when I need it, and backed up in case one of the lists is corrupted or lost.
  • Review. I need to read what I’ve written. Some recommend weekly reviews. I like to start every morning with nothing in the PAST list. If it was due yesterday, I want to delete it if it’s no longer needed or transferred to a day when I plan to do it. Now, all I have to do is look at today, which I have arranged according to schedule and importance.
  • Do. Getting into motion, accomplishing something is the last part of time management.

3. Do what you’ve planned to do.

Action is the key to getting the most from my time. Planning is good — essential. But only what I do counts.

What happens when I’m overwhelmed with so many things I don’t see a way to get accomplished? A “mustard seed” I picked up from a blog or podcast recently:

[tweetthis]Do the next right thing.[/tweetthis]

That’s all we can do — the next right thing. If I’ve assembled, organized, and evaluated all I need to do, what I need to do next is the next right thing, regardless of the number of things I have to do.

What has helped you manage time better?
Please comment below:

Have you apologized, repented, confessed lately?

a key to remaining blameless

I don’t have a problem with them making a mistake. I can accept that. We all make mistakes. What hurts is when they make mistakes and fail to acknowledge them — and worse when they deny it was a problem and try to cover it up.”

A bishop must be blameless, above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2). How does a bishop, deacon, preacher, or other person have and maintain that quality? Since all fall short of perfection, the only way I know how to continue to be blameless is to be a good repenter.

I have noticed, and experienced, an inclination of leaders (humans) to be reluctant to admit wrong. At the moment, they made the best decision and took the best action they knew. This is what people do:

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the hearts (Proverbs 21:2, NKJV).

However, every decision leaders (humans) make, isn’t right. Every action or inaction is not the best. How do I know? The Bible tells me so:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8)

Now, what does a parent, elder, deacon, preacher do? The answer of Scripture is to confess and repent — admit you did it, apologize for the hurt you caused, and don’t do it again.

There seems to be a fear in some of us:
[tweetthis]If I admit imperfection and inadequate judgment, I fear I’ll undermine my authority and leadership.[/tweetthis]

So I’ll ignore it, camouflage it, excuse it, and deny I really did anything unwise or hurtful. Like a statement I heard:

[tweetthis]“I once thought I made a mistake, but I was wrong.”[/tweetthis]

That attitude injures relationships in the family, church, and business. It hurts and damages trust in a leadership group. A healing response is a sincere apology. Seth Godin describes the complete process:

Two elements of an apology

Compassion and Contrition

“We’re sorry that your flight was cancelled. This must have truly messed up your day, sir.”

That’s a statement of compassion.

“Cancelling a flight that a valued customer trusted us to fly is not the way we like to do business. We messed up, it was an error in judgment for us to underinvest in pilot allocation. Even worse, we didn’t do everything we could to get you on a flight that would have helped your schedule. We’ll do better next time.”

That’s what contrition sounds like. We were wrong and we learned from it.

The disappointing thing is that most people and organizations that take the time to apologize intentionally express neither compassion nor contrition.

If you can’t do this, hardly worth bothering.

But it is worth bothering, because you’re a human. And because customers who feel listened to help you improve (and come back to give you another chance.)

— Seth Godin, September 18, 2014

If that is so helpful and healing, why don’t leaders apologize often knowing we make mistakes often?

Two reasons not to admit bad judgment, wrongdoing, or lack of action

1. The people the leaders wronged deserve it.

  • “You might not have deserved that whipping, but you missed a lot when you did.”
  • “You just need to respect our authority and not question us. We did the best we knew how. You should appreciate our efforts.”

2. The leaders know more than you do.

  • “You will understand it better bye and bye.”
  • “When you get as old as I am, you’ll understand.” I’ve lived thirty or forty years after someone told me that and I still don’t understand. I think we need to talk some more. That can be a conversation stopper: “Just take my word for it, I’m smarter than you are.”
  • “If you knew the Greek and Hebrew, you’d get it.” Do you have the ability to explain it in English?
  • “Elders have more information than you do. If you knew what we know, you’d know we always make the best decisions.”

One reason to confess my wrongs, mistakes, oversights, omissions: healing and forgiveness comes from confession.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16).

If all sin, I’m among the all. If the way to healing is through confession and seeking forgiveness, maybe I need to increase my contrition, confession, and admission of hurt.

As a leader, how have you found it easy or difficult to admit mistakes or wrongdoing?
Please comment below:

When a Preacher Is Older Than the Elders

what happens when age relationships shift?

Preacher: “I’m ten years older and have been preaching all my life, and he’s trying to tell me what to do.” Elder: “Our preacher doesn’t respect the elders. He’s older and thinks he should tell us how to lead the church.”

I’ve experienced and observed this for several decades: a changing attitude and relationship of some preachers and their elders when the preacher becomes older than the shepherds in the congregation.

I understand the change. When I was younger, I related to elders as father figures because of their age and authority. I wanted to please. I didn’t want to disagree. I was reluctant to discuss money. I was so hesitant I rejected my first raise.

The summer I was thirty-seven, I began to talk with elders as adult to adult. I lost some fear. I was able to say what I thought and felt. I asked for what I wanted. When I had a different idea, I gained the courage to share it.

There may be a danger at this point of over-compensating.

When a preacher becomes elder (older than some or all of the elders), the dynamic changes. Preachers and elders would do well to talk about this before it happens. How will each adapt to this new relationship?

[tweetthis]I was reluctant to discuss money. I was so hesitant I rejected my first raise.[/tweetthis]

Questions for Preachers

  1. Can you respect men younger than you who have oversight of you and others?
  2. If you’re a wise preacher, discuss with those who are younger how you’ll relate to the age difference.
  3. Did you talk the younger elder into considering the appointment?
  4. Have you taught and mentored this man to help him grow to where he is today?
  5. Can you submit to his leadership even though you are older?
  6. Will you count on your younger friend, mentee, to follow your lead, respect your age and experience, and favor your ideas and desires? You may be disappointed.
[tweetthis]Preacher, have you taught and mentored this man? Can you submit to his leadership even though you’re older?[/tweetthis]

Questions for Elders

  1. Do you feel intimidated by the preacher because of his education, experience, or Bible knowledge?
  2. Do you feel superior to your preacher because of your education, finances, experience in certain areas, or Bible knowledge?
  3. Will you discuss this possible tension before you are appointed, after you are appointed, or wait to see if problems occur and deal with it (or not deal with them) then?
  4. Do you look forward to being “in charge” of the preacher because of past disagreements or resentment?
  5. Do you plan to improve or remove the preacher after you become an elder?
  6. Or, will you defer to the preacher the position of pastor and bishop? Will you look to him for most of the visiting, counseling, reclaiming lost sheep, and directing most of the programs of the congregation? Is your idea of shepherding the sheep being sure the preacher is shepherding the sheep? How will you deal with the vacuum when that preacher moves, becomes disabled, or dies? For more on this, read: When Your Preacher Becomes THE Pastor.
[tweetthis]Future elder, do you look forward to being “in charge” of the preacher because of past disagreements or resentment?[/tweetthis]

Observations for Elders and Preachers

  1. Your relationship will leak to the congregation. If there is toxic tension, the members will choose sides.
  2. If you (elder or preacher) are stronger and you’re sure of it, you have a responsibility to follow Jesus in bearing with the failings of the weak (Romans 15:1-3). The strong one may be both — elder and preacher. I’ve met few or less, preachers or elders who thought they were weaker than the other.
  3. Have mutual care and respect for each other. Keep current with your likes, dislikes, irritations, and appreciation.
  4. Have an eldership funeral when new elders are appointed. When one or more elders are added or subtracted, there is a new eldership. Recognize that. Talk about it. Review and renegotiate the rules.
  5. Aim for a Paul-elder relationship of Acts 20.
  6.  Stay with the word. Acts 20:32
  7.  Remember Jesus’ words. Acts 20:35
  8.  Stay connected with the leadership team through prayer (Acts 20:36), expressing emotions as well as facts (Acts 20:37), and walk with brethren (team members) through life’s changes (Acts 20:38).

I’ve had that relationship with most shepherds during my ministry. It was pleasant and encouraging. I felt connected, secure, and supported. The congregation and others saw our mutual respect and cooperation.

How have you dealt with changing dynamics in elder-preacher relationships?
Please comment below:

Have You Been to an Eldership Funeral?

death precedes resurrection

We were anticipating more leadership in the congregation. In a few weeks, we looked forward to completing the selection process, and appointing a new shepherd or two. I asked the elders if they were planning an eldership funeral. They hadn’t thought about that.

I explained. It was my observation that often when new elders are appointed, you don’t get new elders. You get junior elders, trainees. They’re expected to do everything just as it’s always been done. If there’s conflict in the eldership, the new men will be recruited to be on each side.

Often when new elders are appointed, you don’t get new elders. You get junior elders, trainees. Click To Tweet

Also, when new elders are appointed, there aren’t just new elders, there is a new eldership. If you have a beaker with a chemical in it, and you place one drop of another chemical in it, you don’t just have another drop of stuff, you have a new compound.

[tweetthis]When new elders are appointed, there aren’t just new elders, there is a new eldership.[/tweetthis]

Any time there’s a change in a leadership group (one or more leave, one or more are added, one or more have a significant change in family, job, or health status), you have a new leadership group.

I thought it would be good to acknowledge that, learn from it, and start with a new group. It was one of those ideas I gave for consideration not knowing if it would be considered or delegated to the waste basket.

The next month, the elders said, “We’ve discussed the eldership funeral. We want to have one and we want you to preach it.”

People often ask, “What do you do at an eldership funeral?” — same thing you do at other funerals: stand around the casket, talk about the deceased, recall their good traits, and talk about how we’ll make it without them.

We went to a log cabin in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, on a Friday night, and had a three-hour funeral.

After going over Guidelines for a Good Discussion, which you can have in an eBook by subscribing to this blog (Subscribe), we began the funeral.

This was a parable of what was happening to the present eldership. Everything Jesus taught was in parables (Mark 4:33, 34). If you don’t like a preacher or teacher who tells stories, you don’t like Jesus because “He did not tell them anything without using stories” (Mark 4:34, CEV). We noted and discussed Paul’s emphasis on the gospel — death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). We wanted to follow Jesus’ example of preparing His disciples for His death (Matthew 16:21-26). We observed the advantage of funerals. Solomon said it’s better to go to a funeral than to go to a party (Ecclesiastes 7:1-10). We read funeral passages. A Word and PDF document of the outline are available:

Eldership Funeral PDF

Eldership Funeral Word

We recalled the history of this group of leaders. They became shepherds during a difficult time in the history of the congregation. Not one of them had ever served as an overseer. Every situation was new to them. They were dealing with a congregation hurt and unsettled because of sustained conflict. They had led well. The conflict had subsided. There was peace. Read about the process: Starting from Scratch.

We “stood around the casket” and talked about this eldership, recalling early fears, discussing how they became a team, and how they were as a group. If a group of elders has unfinished business, it will be transferred to the new elders being appointed.

Our attention turned to the additional leadership soon to be appointed. How would they be integrated? Would they be told the rules? Often a group’s rules are unconscious, unspoken, but understood. We don’t think about them, don’t discuss them, but if you break them, you are in serious trouble! As they considered this, they said, “They can change some rules, but some they can’t.” The came up with two lists of rules: negotiable and non-negotiable. Read about this: Shepherds, What Are your Rules?

I enjoyed the night. We celebrated how God had worked with these men during a difficult time The church had grown and matured. They had survived the storm and were enjoying the sunshine.

Our next topics:

  • What hopes and dreams do you have?
  • How will you communicate these to each other, to the new elders, and to the congregation?

We concluded with the Five Tasks of Dying — how to end any relationship:

  1. Forgive me.
  2. I forgive you.
  3. I love you.
  4. Thank you.
  5. Good-bye.

I’ve “preached the funeral” of four elderships where I’ve worked, including one interim congregation, and officiated at one funeral at the beginning of a New Shepherds Orientation Workshop. I think it’s healthy to discuss these issues.

Many people get excited over resurrection. Fewer want to volunteer for crucifixion. Click To Tweet

For copies of the outline, click the links:

Eldership Funeral PDF

Eldership Funeral Word

What have you observed in a good transition when new leadership comes into a group?
Please comment below:

What Have You Quit Lately to Become a Better Leader?

the apostles refused to go to the grocery store to feed widows

The response of the apostles in Acts 6 amazes me. When there was criticism because Grecian widows weren’t getting their fair share of food, the apostles replied, “We won’t be going to the grocery store to get food for our Christian sisters.” Can you imagine that attitude from men Jesus taught and trained to be good servants and to follow His example?

When I read that, questions come to my mind. Did the apostles not know how to distribute food? Were they too dumb? Did the apostles think they were too good to do lowly work like delivering groceries?

The answer to all those questions is, “No.” They weren’t too dumb and they weren’t too proud. They had experience in food distribution. They were servers when Jesus fed 5,000 and 4,000 men besides women and children. They gave food to the people. They gathered left-overs after the picnic.

But at this point in their leadership, they said, “It is not reason, it is not desirable, it is not right, it is wrong for us to leave the word of God and serve tables.”

[tweetthis]Do we as leaders in the Lord’s church realize it can be wrong to do right?[/tweetthis] [tweetthis]It’s wrong to do right when the right thing isn’t what we need to be doing now.[/tweetthis]

From this account of the apostles’ refusal to take part in this act of service, which they had done in the past, I wonder if I’m doing the same tasks in my leadership as I did ten or more years ago? [tweetthis]Am I doing the wrong right thing?[/tweetthis]

Circumstances that Bring Change in Leadership

  1. Understanding the responsibility of leaders. It isn’t the duty of leaders to do everything that needs to be done. Paul wrote, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11, 12, NKJV). According to the Holy Spirit, writing through Paul, leaders are to equip Christians for the work of ministry. Preachers don’t have to visit every sick person. In fact, that work in scripture is assigned to elders (James 5:14). All citizens of the kingdom will be held accountable for this ministry (Matthew 25:34-36). Leaders are to help all saints be better ministers.
  2. Growth. Have I learned anything in the last twenty years? Have I gained new skills? I can’t do everything I used to do, everything I’ve learned to do, and everything I’ve learned to do better — and do everything the way I’ve always done it.
  3. Training of others. We have men in the congregation at Northside who fly for UPS. One is a trainer. He flies some. But he can’t put in the hours delivering packages he did years ago and train pilots. He had to quit some things to do other things.
  4. Possibility of disability and certainty of death. Elders, preachers, deacons, and other Bible teachers are getting older and will die. Some will be unable to continue their leadership duties before they die. We need to be asking and answering the question George Jones sang in the song written by Troy Seals and Max D. Barnes, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?”. [tweetthis]He who leads without leading others to lead is no leader.[/tweetthis]

It’s good to take inventory. How am I growing as a leader? What have I quit? What do I refuse to do because I have something to do others can’t do? And if I do what I’ve always done, I can’t do what I need to be doing.

What have you quit to be a better leader?
Please comment below:

When to Leave…Before You Go (2012)

Full title:
When to Leave: How to Know It’s Time to Move On (Before You Stay Way Too Long)…Before You Go: A Few Sneaky-Good Questions Every Minister Must Answer Before Moving to a New Church

A classic — getting a peek into the mind of a moving preacher.

This book is requested outside reading for elders and search teams where I work as an interim.

I recommend it for preachers considering, looking, or having to move. It gives much of “the rest of the story” that is rarely discussed in the interview process. Yet, these issues will determine much of the fit and good/bad results of the new preacher-church relationship.

This book is only available in Kindle format. Kindle apps are available for Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android phone and tablet, Kindle Cloud Reader, PC , Windows Phone, Samsung, BlackBerry, and WebOS.

Sample “Mustard Seeds”

I know how easy it is for both the church and the prospective minister to emerge from a search process with unrealistic expectations of each other. The best way to clarify expectations is to ask good questions.  This doesn’t always happen because some ministers show up at the interview wanting the job so badly they subconsciously avoid the best (and hardest) questions. Some young ministers want to ask the right questions, but lack the experience to know what to ask (Kindle Locations 954–957).

Most churches deceive themselves about how healthy they are.  Most ministers deceive themselves about how capable they are. Too many interviews boil down to two self-deceived parties trying to convince each other of how much they can accomplish if they work together (Kindle Locations 970–972).

Helpful hint: If a group tells you they don’t have a leader, the one who makes the strongest case for not having a leader is probably the leader (Kindle Locations 1252–1253).

Assuming that the search team is taking the job description seriously, it might be a good idea to sit down with them and ask them what motivated the inclusion of any idiosyncratic details. It won’t take long to figure out how much of the new job description can be summarized into one bullet point: Don’t be like our last preacher (Kindle Locations 1316–1318)!